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Game 1: Lohse vs. Halladay, Saturday Oct. 1, 5:07 ET
Game 2: Jackson vs. Lee, Sunday Oct. 2, 8:07 ET
Game 3: Hamels vs. Carpenter, Tuesday Oct. 4, TBD
Game 4: TBA vs. Garcia, Wednesday Oct. 5, TBD*
Game 5: TBA vs. TBA, Friday Oct. 7, TBD*
At first glance, the Phillies and Cardinals would not appear to be a competitive series.
The Cardinals limped into the playoffs, taking advantage of the Atlanta Braves falling apart by winning two out of three games over the worst team in baseball, the Houston Astros. The Phillies, on the other hand, finished with the best record in baseball, closing with a record of 102-60.
However, the Cardinals are one of only three teams with a winning record over the Phillies, winning six of the nine games between the two teams this season.
While there is no way Roy Halladay can have a start that compares to the no-hitter he threw to open the playoffs last season, he will still dominate like he always does.
Kyle Lohse has been very good this season, posting a career best 3.39 ERA ,and has been better against the Phillies, with a 1.76 ERA in two starts and did not give up a single run in his start in Philadelphia. Lohse out-dueled Halladay already this season, helping fuel the Cardinals to a 4-3 win in part of their September playoff push.
However, Halladay is fantastic at home and even better in the postseason. This will be a close game, there is no doubt, but the Phillies will take the series lead in front of their home crowd to start off their push for a World Series appearance.
The second game features another interesting matchup, with Edwin Jackson going head-to-head with Cliff Lee.
Lee is no stranger to the playoffs; this is his third consecutive appearance. To be good in the playoffs, pitchers have to keep runners off base, and Lee is one of the best in baseball at that, walking only 42 hitters in 232.2 innings in the regular season. On top of that, Cliff Lee is consistent.
Edwin Jackson is inconsistent and walks a lot of hitters. If Jackson has one of his better games, the Cardinals stand a chance in this one, but if he starts walking hitters, he could find himself in serious trouble against a Phillies offense that has power throughout with Ryan Howard being the main source. If Jackson is not careful, he could wind up getting himself creamed and watching the Phillies take a 2-0 lead into St. Louis.
Game 3 in St. Louis is the Cardinals' to lose. They have their ace on the mound and play at home. They need to win to keep the series going.
Cole Hamels is an extremely talented pitcher and has had a fantastic season, but Chris Carpenter is just a bit better and will find a way to keep his team alive as he has throughout his career.
Jaime Garcia will be on the mound for Game 4, and his competitor has not yet been announced by Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. However, there is a good chance that Halladay will be on the hill, and if that is the case, the Phillies will end the series. Manuel could also decide to throw Vance Worley, who has been fantastic in his rookie campaign, posting a 3.01 ERA. If he throws Worley, the Cardinals would have a good shot.
Garcia has been fantastic at Busch Stadium this season, however, and the Cardinals will win that game and head back to Philadelphia for Game 5.
The Cardinals have been fantastic this season without Adam Wainwright, but it hurts in Game 5 when they cannot throw Chris Carpenter. Manuel has no choice but to throw Halladay, and the Cardinals will be forced to throw either Lohse or Jackson, neither of whom would have enough to propel St. Louis to a win, and the Phillies, as everyone expected, qualify for the NLCS.
Series Final: 3-2 Phillies